Luck seen running out at region's two casinos

Report: Fewer from New England gamble at Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun

New Englanders are making fewer trips to Connecticut's casinos than they once did, with Massachusetts residents, in particular, forsaking Foxwoods Resort Casino for Twin River in Rhode Island, a new report being released today shows.

The report finds that Bay Staters still make more visits to Foxwoods than do Connecticut residents and trail only Connecticut residents in patronizing Mohegan Sun.

But, the report concludes, "current trends do not bode well for the Nutmeg State's two behemoth casinos."

Twin River, the racetrack casino in Lincoln, R.I., which offers slot machines and wagering on simulcast racing, is now more dependent on Bay Staters' spending than on spending by Rhode Islanders, according to Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at UMass Dartmouth, whose School of Education, Public Policy and Civic Engagement funded the survey.

Twin River is expected to introduce table games in the next three to four months, likely diverting more business from Foxwoods and, to a lesser extent, Mohegan Sun. Rhode Island's gaming lineup also includes a slots-only facility in Newport.

"While neither Rhode Island slot parlor can compete with the Connecticut casinos' range of gaming and non-gaming amenities, Twin River's closer proximity to the population-rich centers of central and eastern Massachusetts, combined with aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns, has made Twin River a favored alternative for convenience gamblers," Barrow said in a news release.

The report, titled "Bring It On Home, An Overview of Gaming Behavior in New England," finds that residents in the five states surveyed - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island - are generally gambling less and spending their remaining gambling dollars closer to home. Seventeen percent of the respondents indicated they had visited Foxwoods in 2012, down from 22 percent in 2008, while 14 percent had visited Mohegan Sun, down from 19 percent four years earlier.

Massachusetts residents account for two-thirds of the decline in visitors to Foxwoods and 28 percent of the drop-off among visitors to Mohegan Sun, according to the survey results.

The report also finds that the Connecticut casinos' New England patrons are, on average, younger than many believe, and are well educated and "comparatively affluent."

The average age of visitors to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun is 46.5 and 46.6 years of age, respectively. Twenty-eight percent of the casinos' visitors are 21 to 34; 29 percent are 35 to 49; 26 percent are 50 to 64; and 16 percent are 65 and older.

"The result dispels the argument among some that Foxwoods' and Mohegan Sun's primary customers are seniors," the report says.

Survey results show 37 percent of those who visited the Connecticut casinos in the past year held a bachelor's degree or higher while 33 percent had some college experience or an associate's degree or technical certification and 28 percent had a high school diploma.

Nearly half of the casino visitors surveyed had family incomes above $75,000.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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